Sweet Maria's Weblog

Cold Brew Part 3: Examination With A Refractometer

So we are at it again, making cold brew coffee a few different ways and tasting it to see how different brewing methods affect coffee flavors. During tasting sessions, we all had our opinions but there hasn't been much science involved so out came the refractometer. A refractomenter is a device used by beverage and produce professionals to determine what percentage of solubles are in a solution. For example, a cup of coffee is mostly water with very tiny bits of ground coffee beans floating in it. A refractometer is able to tell us exactly how much coffee is in that water.


Makers and Tasters Part 2: More Fun the Second Time Around

Earlier this summer we were invited to the Oakland Museum of California's weekly food truck party to demonstrate coffee roasting. We didn't set off any smoke alarms or leave too much chaff so they invited us back for another night of demos. We brought a Fresh Roast SR500 along with a very durable WestBend AirCrazy popper that we have been torturting at demos for the past 3 years. We roasted countless batches of  Guatemala Finca Candelaria Lote Cedro in front of about 200 curious folks that were drawn into our area throughout the night. Those who wanted to give it a try on their own, went home with a sample of the same coffee to throw into their own poppper or skillet. Thank you to everyone that came out and to the wonderful folks at the Oakland Museum of California. We had a blast.

If you weren't able to drop by, we have a another event in the works at the Chabot Space Center in Oakland on Saturday, Oct. 25th. Stay tuned.

New lots from Panama and Honduras plus an XL Indonesia Sampler

Panama Organic Duncan Estate is very sweet with sugar cane juice clarity, honey and caramel sauce.

Honduras Dolores Merendon also has upfront sweetness, with fruited aspects of fresh pear, apple and apricot.

XL Indonesia Sampler is a great way to experience the different cup profiles Indonesia has to offer. Each sampler consists of four different lots from Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java, and Papua New Guinea. The variety is amazing from traditional wet-hulled lots, to dry-hulled and washed coffees, Indonesia has so much to offer and we hope you give the sampler a try.

Three Very Nice Fruited Lots

Guatemala Huehuetenango Baudilio Castillo Micro-Lot is fantastic with balanced sweetness, acidity and good body.

Brazil Carmo de Minas - Fazenda Kaquend has delicate orange hints at light roasts, with butter cookie, praline and dark fruits like plum and fig.

Kenya Kirinyaga Kii Peaberry with amazing floral qualities along with citrus notes of ruby red grapefruit and orange juice.

More Cold Brew

We started down our cold brew path a few weeks ago when the weather was super hot here in Oakland (92°F is considered unbearable in these parts). The weather is cooling down for now but we are still playing around with cold brew recipes. One of our staff was generous enough to bring in her Yama drip tower so we have been trying not to spend too much time staring at it as it brews one drip at a time from a reservoir 2 feet above the tabletop. We also set up the DIY Aeropress/plastic bottle dripper to compare something expensive to something affordable. Click here to read more about the Aeropress dripper that we was inspired from Prima Coffee's blog.

Why would anyone pay hundreds of dollars for a fancy drip tower. Consistency. Rigging your own DIY cold brewer can lead to issues that get in the way of dialing in your brew. For one, the tiny hole in the lid of a bottle can strangely vary in size each time you brew. We think just the cold water alone can shrink the hole and slow things down to a standstill. Sometimes the clog is caused by a fray of plastic from the pinhole, a rogue coffee grind or a piece of dust. Trying to open it up a bit with a pin or steak knife just adds to the mid-brew frustration. In all fairness, the bottle method works most of the time, it's just frustrating to continually check on it.  The brass spigot and all-glass funnel system of a real cold drip system add a lot of certainty when you walk away from the brewer for a few hours.